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10 Common Tomato Plant Problems & How To Fix Them

If you are going to grow tomatoes -- or really any fruit of vegetable -- you are more than likely going to run into some kind of problem. It's just part of the process. 

In this blog, I go over 10 different problems you might run into and what you can do to solve them. 

1. Small holes in leaves of seedlings – Flea beetles eat small holes in the leaves of tomato seedlings and small transplants. Flea beetles usually focus on seedlings. To prevent this, try and make your tomato seedlings healthy as healthy tomato seedlings can tolerate beetle damage.  The entire plant may be destroyed.

2. Leaves eaten off plant – Vegetable weevils or Colorado potato beetles attack many vegetables including tomatoes. They are small and dark in color and do not fly; they are slow to spread. Keep your garden clean and handpick adult beetles off plants. Use rotenone in severe cases.

3. Lower leaves have a bronze, oily color – The tomato russet mite are microorganisms that are not visible to the eye but with the aid of a hand lens. They are whitish-yellow in color and pear-shaped. They cause lower leaves of tomato plants to have a bronze oily color. Treat with sulfur and avoid growing tomatoes near petunias.

4. Tomato leaves are yellowish and slightly curled and with small shiny dots – This is caused by aphids. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects. They colonize on the undersides of tomato leaves and they leave behind sticky excrement known as honeydew, which can turn into a black dirty mold. You can make use of insecticidal soap to take care of them.

5. Leaves turn yellow and then brown from the base of the plant – Plant loses vigor when this happen. This is caused by the root-knot nematode, a microscopic eelworm that attacks feeder roots. Rotate crops. Plant resistant varieties labeled VFN. Remove old plant debris from garden.

6. Leaves appear scorched and wilted – This is caused by leafhoppers. These leafhoppers are brown, green, or yellow bugs. They are ⅓-inch long with wedge-shaped wings. They jump from side to side and suck the juices from plants. To take care of this, use insecticidal soap and cover your tomato plants with floating row covers to exclude leafhoppers.

7. Water-soaked spots on leaves; this leaves spots on leaves and they become circular with gray centers – Septoria leaf spot or leaf spot is a fungus disease. To take care of this, rotate crops, plant resistant varieties, apply liquid copper spray or copper dust every 7 to 10 days, and keep garden free of plant debris.

8. Older leaves turn yellow and die; this yellowing of older leaves begins between main veins of leaves - a soil fungus causes Verticillium Wilt. It favors cool soil and air temperatures. To prevent this, plant resistant varieties (V or VF) and do not plant where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumber and eggplant family plants have been recently growing. This disease is most obvious in hot weather when the tomato plant is loaded with fruit and with lower amount of water.

9. Round white powdery spots and coating on leaves – Fungal spores cause this powdery mildew. When the humidity is high, the spores germinate on dry leaf surfaces. This type of disease is common in late summer but does not result in loss of plant. To care for this, pick off infected leaves and avoid water stress.

10. Dark brown to black blemishes surrounded by yellowing along edges of the tomato leaves – These bacterial specks grow where the weather is wet and cool with a temperature less than 70°F (21°C). to prevent this, delay planting of tomato seedlings until temperatures warm. Avoid overhead watering and rotate crops.

The 10 Best Tomatoes To Grow In Any Climate

While we talk about tomatoes as if there is just one type of tomato, the reality is quite different.

There are many types of tomatoes and the number of variations grow each years. Names like, (The Money Maker Tomato, Cherry Ripe, Humpty, Moonshot, Bragger Tomato, Top Dog, Mellow Yellow, and Tickled Pink are fast growing in the world of tomatoes.)

The following are a list of some of the most common varieties and what they are best used for.

1. Grosse Lisse Tomato – This is an old-fashioned type of tomato and is a favorite of die-hard tomato growers. It has a large, globe shape and is very fleshy. It does require staking and it fruits mid to late in the season. The variety has recently been improved to a crossbreed, which resists Fusarium, Verticillium, and Bacterial Wilt.

2. Beefsteak Tomato – This type of tomato is a large round, meaty variety with a juicy and sweet flavor. It is resistant to some fungal diseases but you can add some other preventative measures. Its fruits appear early to mid-season.

3. Bragger Tomato – This is a variety of tomato is large in size, tasty and great to use in sandwiches, salads, barbeques, soups, and other hot dishes and for preserving. This tomato is resistant to nematodes, tomato mosaic virus, and fusarium and verticillium wilt. It requires staking and it can fruit early to late season.

4. Roma & San Marzano – These two tomato types have a lot in common and that is why they are placed together. They are the same type of tomato but are named after two different regions of Italy. They are medium in size and are oval in shape. They have many great uses and this is due to their ability to produce tomato sauces and pastes. They are resistant to many fungal diseases and they give the best value for money for their growers.

 5. Apollo Tomato - Apollo is a tried and true all-time favorite just like the Gosse Lisse tomato. It is a large fleshy tomato and is ideal for salads soups, sandwiches, and sauces. This tomato type is popular due to its ability to set fruit earlier than most other tomato types in cooler climates. It fruits from early in the season to late in the season and this makes it one of the most high-volume producers of all. It requires staking to do well.

6. Rouge de Marmande – This tomato along with Allans Early is one of the earliest fruiting varieties around. Also known as Burkes Backyard Tomato, Italian Tomato and Adelaide Tomato, this variety can endure cooler temperatures. It can be planted as early as September. This variety of tomato is rose in color, large and somewhat ugly, but it is tastes great. Its flesh is firm, nearly crisp. It fruits very early in the season and it requires staking for maximum yield.

7. Cherry Tomato – This is a tiny tomato but full of taste. It is perhaps the sweetest of all tomatoes and it is a favorite of kids of all ages. Most people love this type of tomato and most backyards have at least one of these sprawling. It can fruit up until mid-winter when they stop because of extreme cold. Fruits early and late in season. Resistant to most diseases and it does require staking.

8. First Prize/Patio Prize – These two varieties of tomato are also known as bush tomatoes; this is because they require no staking. On strong stalks, they grow to about half a meter and produce great tasting, medium-sized tomatoes in several crops. They fruit mid to late in the season. They grow on stalks and yield in several crops. They require no staking.

9. Black Russian Tomato – This variety of tomato ranges from purple to black in color and it is a medium firm tomato. This heirloom variety of tomato has a fantastic taste all of its own. It fruits mid to late in season and it requires staking.

10. Mellow Yellow – This is a great variety of tomato for those with tummy problems which are caused by acid in everyday tomatoes. It is mild on acid with a great taste. It is a large, bright yellow tomato and it can be used as any other tomato. You can plant this variety early in the season and they require staking for maximum yield.

While there are many other types of tomatoes out there, these are just a popular few. You can research others or even come up with a personal variety.